Google Analytics Expert Needed


#1

I’m looking for a google analytics expert to talk to me and then who can talk to a group of tech writers about using google analytics with web-based Help systems. This person would provide an overview for beginners and talk about what analytics one would want to capture. I can talk more to that person about specifics.

During my search, I have had three other people ask me to share this person with them - one is the editor of an industry journal interested in an article.

Are you an expert? Know of an expert?

Thanks.
Michelle


#2

I’m not an expert on Google Analytics, though I do use them on my sites and monitor them regularly. But there is a huge caveat on using analytics in tech comm which a Google Analytics expert from another field may not be aware of.

We want analytics to determine the quality of content and its value. The problem is, visitor statistics tell you very little about the quality or the value of technical communication.

For regular content, quality content gets more visits. But for tech comm, the number of visits to a particular topic is determined primarily by the number of times that the user encounters the problem that that topic addresses. This has nothing to do with the quality of the topic. It is all about the quality of the product and the things people do with it.

Now we might think that if the analytics don’t tell us a lot about quality, they do at least tell us a lot about value, that the more often a topic is read, the more value it is delivering to the customer. But this is not necessarily so either.

Some user problems are more expensive/valuabe than others. A problem like the main server crashing and corrupting the main database could be a problem that costs a million dollars an hour. But if your server crashes and corrupts your database on a regular basis, your product is going to be off the market real quick. If your product is reliable enough to be commercially viable, the topic on recovering from a server crash that trashes the database is probably the single most valuable topic in your entire documentation set, and probably the one least often read.

Google analytics is not going to tell you that.

This is not to say there is no value to be had from Google analytics, but it is important to remember that the relationship between quality, value, and page views for tech comm is radically different than it is for content marketing, for instance.


#3

I absolutely agree with you. I/We need the non-industry overview and then we can apply our industry expertise to see what makes sense. It’s an interesting area to explore, even being aware of the limitations.

(Some stats may never have meaning for us. Is it good that someone spent such a short time on a page because that means they found the answer quickly and can return to work? Is it good if they spend longer because they found something interesting to read?)

I don’t know that our company is looking for analytics to determine quality. We’re looking at traffic numbers, entry points, and country data right now. We’re exploring what the data can tell us or suggest to us.

It’s difficult to know what to do when you don’t know what you can do. That’s why I think a general overview and interdisciplinary brainstorming might be helpful and fun.


#4

Hey Michelle, I agree with Mark on the GA’s limitations. That said, we’ve got a pretty robust analytics strategy in place across our help content, along with Mark’s suggested “was this helpful” qualitative approach. More than happy to share our setup, experience, best practices with you and your team.


#5

That would be wonderful. It’s just me, really, so please let me know how you want to do this (call?). Thanks so much! Learning about the limitations is valuable too. michelle.despres@gmail.com


#6

cool. emailing you now.


#7

Mark - what are your thoughts about tracking content over time? If you compare content against itself, would that not suggest to you whether the content’s value is either increasing or decreasing?

Or what about looking at individual page statistics and asking why they have drastically different numbers from other pages in the same doc set? I’d start off by asking whether pages with really low stats are needed. Obviously, you need to know your content and draw some educated conclusions.

However, I would pay a lot more attention to what keywords are bringing readers to a given page - by using Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner, or one of the free alternatives. I’ve done that before to improve search engine optimization but that was a few years ago when the Adwords’ Keyword Planner was free.


#8

I think patterns in the data, whether you are comparing one topic to others or comparing the hits on a topic over time, can be useful hints that there may be something worth investigating, provided you don’t jump to naive conclusions about what the data means. Jumping to naive conclusions is a very real danger though. As is the danger of other people seeing your data and jumping to naive conclusions.

I think patterns over time are more interesting than static snapshots, but I don’t think they tell you anything in themselves. But changes in an established pattern can be a signal that there is something worth investigating. Gathering evidence to explain why the pattern changed can be a valuable exercise that may lead to important actions. But I would be very leery about taking any action just because a pattern changed.

There is one page on my blog that is by far, year after year, the most visited page on my site. It is also of little or no value to my business, other than that it bring eyeballs to my site. It is a general reflection on writing skills that has nothing to do with the services I offer. I don’t think it is particularly brilliant or inspiring. It was just a response to something I saw on someone else’s blog. I think it gets a lot of hits because it happens to have keywords that a lot of people search for, as opposed to keywords related to the more specialized work that I actually do.

It is certainly worth my while to look at my blog stats from time to time, but it would be naive to think that that post is the most valuable piece of content on my site.